The Social Conscience of the Early Victorians

Many critics maintain that the impulse that prompted Miguel de Cervantes ( – ) to begin his great novel . Don Quixote de la Mancha is also as modern as the most experimental of later fiction. . Bloom, Harold, ed.

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This Topic Guide has three major goals, as outlined in Section 1 : to summarise evidence on ECD; to map sectoral entry points; and to identify opportunities for more integrated ECD. There is universal agreement that ECD is by definition multi-sectoral. This section provides an introduction to this overarching issue. Integrated ECD starts from the simple and compelling idea of comprehensive services that avoid fragmentation and bring together sectors and stakeholders at every level ministries, professionals, policies, programmes, services, communities, parents and children in the shared mission: to give every girl and boy the best start in life.

But delivering on this simple and compelling idea can be very complex and controversial, depending on the political and financial context and capacity for reform, the pre-existing infrastructures and the priorities of donors, NGOs and other change agents. Integrating early childhood services notably nutrition, health and education is not a new idea.


  1. The Early Childhood Education Workforce in Europe Between Divergencies and Emergencies.
  2. The Early Years Curriculum | The UK context and beyond | Taylor & Francis Group.
  3. Community Playthings | Cultural diversity in the early years.

Holistic visions of early childhood can be traced back many centuries, and translated into child-centred nurseries and kindergartens, originating especially in Europe, North America and other industrialised Western societies. Early examples include:. Achieving integration is not just about system-level reform and innovation. It must also be acknowledged that the field of ECD is distinctive in the plurality of visions for young children, expressed through diverse programme models, curricula and pedagogies.

ICDS is one of the earliest established, most ambitious, and largest scale integrated programme in at that time a low-income country. Summarising ICDS draws attention to some of the major challenges facing comprehensive, multi-sectoral initiatives, which will be elaborated through later sections of the Topic Guide.

Numerically, ICDS is still the largest early childcare programme in the world, with 1. The number of child beneficiaries nearly doubled between and from million to million DESI, The first goal of ICDS has been to improve nutrition in a country which even in still had alarmingly high rates of malnutrition and stunting, affecting Anganwadis aim to deliver on these goals via supplementary feeding of children under 6 and growth monitoring; immunisation; health check-ups; referral services; antenatal and postnatal care of mothers; nutrition and health education; and non-formal preschool education for 3 hours a day for children aged years.

At constant prices , budgetary allocation to ICDS by the central government increased nearly three-fold between and , and by was INR 87 billion. These evaluations draw attention to many of the challenges of delivering an integrated programme on such a massive scale. In many cases, they are operating in a totally inadequate building, without safe drinking water, nor space for children to play.

Regulations to govern basic infrastructure are weakly implemented. Anganwadi workers are often overburdened, underpaid and have only very basic training, and learning materials are generally inadequate Programme Evaluation Organisation, The scale of ICDS places a huge financial burden, and as a rule, Anganwadi centres are under-resourced in practice. Moreover, the Programme Evaluation Organisation report identifies a big discrepancy between reported expenditure and actual resources at programme level.

Adequate interdepartmental cooperation has also been a challenge for ICDS, especially coordination among providers of complementary services such as health facilities and water and sanitation. Finally, delivering on the core goals of ICDS has been hampered by inequities in access. The Anganwadi model is celebrated for being able to reach remote and marginalised communities, led by local women who are respected within the community.

But overall the states with the greatest need for the programme, the poor northern states with high levels of child malnutrition, have the lowest programme coverage and the lowest budgetary allocations from the central government Programme Evaluation Organisation, ; Lokshin et al. The pioneer example of ICDS offers evidence of what can be achieved, as well as the challenges. Many other comprehensive integrated programmes are reviewed in this Topic Guide, including ambitious reforms initiated by governments.

But central government-driven, system-level reforms are only one starting point. There is scope for more localised and modest innovation, especially in countries where policy engagement is relatively recent, with infrastructure and capacity gaps, in terms of service delivery systems, professional and para-professional training, etc.

Many priorities for integrated ECD are in relatively low resource, but high need contexts, where populations are large and may be widely dispersed , governance systems can be relatively weak and professional capacity scarce. Governance, resourcing and logistic challenges can result in a patchwork of provision, made more complicated by the co-existence of multiple providers, from the state, NGO and private sectors.

Governance weaknesses can have serious consequences in terms of equity in access and quality, representation of girls and boys, the most disadvantaged children, ethnic minorities and isolated communities, and inclusion of children with special needs. In summary, the goal of achieving more integrated ECD systems can be articulated in terms of relatively modest objectives that involve specific community-based innovations, or initiatives that encourage greater collaboration amongst policymakers, service providers and professionals concerned with ECD WASH, nutrition, health, education, social protection etc.

Figure 4 is a useful starting point, although in practice, operationalising integration is rarely so uni-dimensional or straightforward, for several reasons:. Evaluation strategies should not assume there is a single most cost-effective way to deliver ECD, nor that full integration is realistically attainable, nor necessarily even considered desirable in societies that value local innovations, and community initiatives that may not fit neatly into a uniform, centrally-controlled ECD system.

On a more positive note, low- and middle-income countries with shorter histories of ECD programming may be at an advantage and more open to exploring innovatory and sustainable approaches to service development, delivery and evaluation. Vargas-Baron discusses building national ECD systems. Sections 3 , 4 , 5 and 6 of the Topic Guide look in more detail at sectoral and age specific entry points for more integrated ECD, based around both traditional and more innovatory delivery platforms and including examples of comprehensive national programmes, as well as smaller scale initiatives.

Section 7 revisits the concept of more holistic ECD and offers ten general conclusions relevant to planning for more integrated — or at the very least more coordinated — ECD services. A comprehensive framework also takes into account the cultural context, belief systems and behavioural patterns that shape the ways birth is prepared for and anticipated, including the birth of an infant girl versus boy. Beginning this Topic Guide by focusing on the mother before and during pregnancy is an important extension of the scope of a holistic ECD, which conventionally begins at birth.

Focus on the young woman and mother-to-be should be set within a life cycle and gender-based analysis of family, social and economic systems as these can be reformed in ways that enable, empower and support parenting, and promote development of the next generation of girls and boys Girl Hub, ; Taylor and Pereznieto, ; Cornwall and Edwards, This section includes the social protection available to the young mother; their preparation for pregnancy; health, nutrition and WASH risks and interventions during pregnancy, birth and earliest infancy; as well as the significance of early developmental stimulation and parent support, and the impact on neo-natal survival, growth and development.

This section includes interventions through to the very earliest weeks of life. Section 4 picks up on these themes for the full period from birth to 2 years old. To date, the policy priority has been on maternal and child survival, health, and nutrition, with significant progress made in recent years The Lancet, The global statistics conceal significant diversity within as well as between countries, related to gender, poverty, urban versus rural location and other factors see Figure 6.

Health workers are well placed to implement many of the health, nutrition and WASH interventions during pregnancy, birth and earliest infancy, which are crucial to child survival and development. Biological and psychosocial risk factors associated with poverty lead to marked inequalities in ECD Walker et al. These risks begin long before the baby is conceived, notably affected by the education levels; the living conditions of young women; livelihoods and household poverty levels; risks and shocks; and access to information and services.

In all countries with relevant data, child mortality rates are highest in households where the education of the mother is lowest WHO, a. The poorest women are generally least likely to access healthcare services. For example, women in the poorest households are least likely to have a skilled birth attendant with them during childbirth WHO, b. Adolescent pregnancy is more common in adolescents who live in poverty and in rural areas, and it is more likely to occur among the less educated. Social protection programmes can alleviate the impact of poverty on pregnant women directly, through cash transfers, as well as through providing antenatal preparation and other services.

Britto et al. One long-standing and well researched example is Oportunidades in Mexico see Case Study 2. Oportunidades is a large-scale Federal programme, introduced in It combines conditional cash transfers with coordinated health, nutrition and education interventions.

Early History of Early Childhood Education

Major components of the programme are:. Oportunidades benefited 5. An evaluation of the programme from Government of Mexico, identified a range of cross-sectoral outcomes:. Barber and Gertler reported a study of women which found that participation in Oportunidades predicted birthweight Fernald et al. They found that the amount of cumulative cash that had been transferred to households during their participation in the programme was significantly associated with children having higher verbal and cognitive scores; height- for-age scores and reduced behavioural problems at ages years.

Oportunidades was one of the first nationwide programmes of this kind, and the principles have been widely replicated, especially within Latin America. Currently, the largest coverage conditional cash transfer programme is Bolsa Familia in Brazil Lindert, One specific strategy to combat the impact of poverty on child development is improving access to family planning.

Effective family planning can reduce pregnancy rates amongst adolescents living in poverty and encourage later first pregnancies. Spaced births and fewer pregnancies improve child survival and health. Babies are more likely to be born prematurely, have low birthweight, be small for gestational age, die in infancy, and suffer from malnutrition when they are closely spaced Norton, ; Rutstein, ; Zhu, Short birth intervals may also harm older siblings by reducing the duration of breastfeeding Marston and Cleland, Breastfeeding for longer is also likely to increase birth spacing as ovulation is delayed Howie and McNeilly, Infections, such as malaria, and high blood pressure can also affect birthweight Hendrix and Berghella, IUGR is associated with early developmental risk Walker et al.

For example, a Guatemalan study showed associations between birth size adjusted for gestational age and development at 6 and 24 months Kuklina et al. Evidence for longer-term effects of IUGR on cognitive and social skills is less consistent Walker et al. Much of the evidence relies on animal research Wu et al.

Dominguez-Salas et al. Bhutta et al. Balanced energy-protein supplementation of pregnant women benefits birthweight and reduces births that are small for their gestational age. Analysis of 12 randomised controlled trials from low- and middle-income countries show that supplementation with multiple micronutrients in pregnancy leads to increased birthweight Walker et al.

Antenatal services can address many of the factors that impact upon infant survival and development by detecting and addressing obstetric risks during pregnancy; providing important health and nutritional interventions, and educating mothers in antenatal and newborn care. These studies were mostly conducted in developing countries including India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Gambia, Nepal and Indonesia.

Interventions delivering antenatal newborn care and breastfeeding education to mothers doubled rates of initiation of breastfeeding Lassi et al. HIV infection affects brain development, leading to cognitive impairments. Detrimental effects of HIV infection on neuro-cognitive development were identified in 36 of 43 studies from low-income, middle-income, and high-income countries DFID, Studies of the development of children younger than 5 years infected with HIV from low- and middle-income countries show they have significantly lower motor and mental development scores Walker et al.

Preventative measures such as maternal tetanus immunisation and screening and treatment for syphilis can reduce the risk of newborn death due to infection. Birth and the first 24 hours after birth are the most dangerous for both child and mother — accounting for almost half of maternal and newborn deaths.

Every year, 2. The highest numbers of newborn deaths per year are in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, with India , , Nigeria , and Pakistan , leading. Rwanda — alone among sub-Saharan African countries — halved the number of newborn deaths since Safe birthing practices can prevent maternal and newborn deaths, with skilled care from midwives or other health professionals.

They can prevent newborn deaths due to complications during delivery by monitoring foetal heart rate and signs of distress in labour; providing assisted delivery and caesarean section if needed, and resuscitating newborns with difficulty breathing at birth Wright et al. Adequate access to water and hygiene is very important as a means to ensure safe delivery and to prevent infection and sepsis. In a review on the effect of hygienic birth practices Blencowe et al. Health workers play a crucial role in supporting the care of newborns, and ensuring intervention and referral where necessary.

The authors of a Lancet series paper on newborn health note:. Kangaroo Mother Care KMC is a low cost, low technology intervention for strengthening infant care that has proven effectiveness in low-resource contexts see Case Study 3. Exclusive or nearly exclusive breastfeeding and attempt of early discharge from hospital are also prioritised.

This intervention is used in many low- and middle-income settings in which resources e. The studies in the review included a range of low- and middle-income countries: India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Madagascar, Ethiopia, Mexico, Columbia and Ecuador. Evaluations show that KMC use is also effective in high-income settings, suggesting that skin-to-skin care may have advantages over incubators even where cost is not such a significant issue Renfrew et al.

Midwives, and other trained health workers, both professional and lay, can help women to establish exclusive breastfeeding which is widely considered good practice, wherever feasible. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of infection Wright et al. The potential for linking infant nutrition goals with wider ECD goals is elaborated in Section 3. A systematic review showed that professional and lay support for breastfeeding women is effective Dyson et al.

For example, a large cluster-randomised trial in Belarus which implemented breastfeeding promotion increased the rates of exclusive breastfeeding at 3 months and any breastfeeding up to 12 months. At age 6. Health workers can support the mothers of premature and underweight babies to establish exclusive breastfeeding and to keep the baby warm through skin to skin contact. The focus of interventions in the period after birth has typically been on health and nutrition, and where infants are being screened as special needs or at risk in other respects.

But early breastfeeding, nurturing and care are also the contexts within which infants, mothers and others establish positive relationships, including engaging in early interactions, which foster emotional security, brain development and early learning. Babies typically seek out stimulation via facial expressions, sounds and gestures, as much as their mothers or other caregivers are providing stimulation Schaffer, There is evidence that supporting mothers to interact with their low birthweight and premature babies has an especially positive impact on their development.

In Jamaica, low birthweight, term-born children were randomised at birth to a psychosocial intervention or control group. The intervention was delivered during weekly home visits by community health workers, for the first 8 weeks and again from 7 to 24 months. The second phase focused on play techniques and positive interaction. At 6 years, the intervention group had higher IQ, higher visual-spatial memory scores and fewer behavioural difficulties than children in the control group Walker et al.

The groups aimed to increase appropriate care-seeking including antenatal care and institutional delivery and appropriate home prevention and care practices for mothers and newborns. They used a participatory learning and action cycle which included four phases:. They received days of basic training in maternal and newborn health and participatory facilitation techniques. The trials that reported the behavioural mechanisms through which the birth outcomes may have been achieved, reported effects on health, nutrition and WASH behaviours.

Significant effects were reported on clean delivery practices for home deliveries, especially hand-washing and use of clean delivery kits; exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first 28 days and uptake of antenatal care. There is also evidence that psychosocial interventions in high risk and unstable contexts can improve infant development. A study in northern Uganda offered mother and baby group sessions and home visits for mothers, which led to improved infant stimulation and maternal mood.

Mothers in the intervention group had greater involvement with their babies, more availability of play materials, and less sadness and worry at follow-up Morris et al.

The emphasis of policy is traditionally on health, WASH and nutrition, but fostering positive relationships, attachment and providing opportunities for early play and learning are also crucial at this stage, and research points to the benefits of integrated delivery platforms, notably combining nutrition interventions with support for parents in promoting play-based learning Black and Dewey, Birth registration is a first step to ensure entitlement and access to basic services for all children girls and boys, disadvantaged and minority groups.

The impact of strengthening birth registration systems is highlighted by the example of Democratic Republic of the Congo. The quality of care available during infancy is crucially dependent on the time and capacities of parents especially mothers to provide that care, with financial and psychological security.

Childcare policies and services are strongly shaped by employment opportunities and constraints for mothers with newborns through to school age, and their entitlements to paid or unpaid parental leave for both mothers and fathers. Realities of the childcare economy are also conditional on poverty levels, resources to pay childcare fees, informal household or community-based childcare traditions e.

In a review of Latin America, Pautassi and Rico note:. In life cycle analyses, households are generally at their poorest when children are at the youngest phase of life Dornan and Woodhead, forthcoming. Early childcare services are expanding rapidly in low- and middle-income countries, but they are highly variable in quality, resourcing and regulation. Social protection measures already discussed in Section 3 are also important for this age phase. For example, an evaluation of the Child Support Grant, introduced in South Africa in , concludes:.

In the period from birth to 2 years, promoting good nutrition for all girls and boys is vital to prevent stunting and promote healthy growth and development. Timing of growth faltering may be important. In Guatemala, growth and development were related up to age 24 months but not from 24 to 36 months Kuklina et al. Five longitudinal studies identified that an increase in weight gain from birth to 24 months was associated with increased schooling and reduced grade failures, whereas growth from 2 to 4 years had little effect Martorell et al.

While policy correctly emphasises early nutrition, recent evidence also draws attention to the scope for catch up by initially-stunted children, as well as the risks of growth faltering in middle childhood Fink and Rockers, Breastfeeding remains the single most effective intervention to improve infant and young child nutrition see also Section 3.

The WHO recommends six months of exclusive breastfeeding and up to two years of continued, partial breastfeeding Meeker et al. There is good evidence for the benefits of breastfeeding to development and educational attainment. In Brazil, boys breastfed for at least 9 months attained 0. Reducing micronutrient deficiencies is a specific priority for infant nutrition. Globally, deficiencies of vitamin A and zinc were estimated to have resulted in , and , child deaths respectively in ; deficiencies of iodine and iron, together with stunting, can contribute to children not reaching their developmental potential Black et al.

Studies in Chile, India and Mexico identify evidence of delayed brain maturation in infants with iron-deficiency anaemia. Additional evidence shows poorer cognitive, motor, and social-emotional development associated with iron-deficiency anaemia in infancy, or the preschool period Walker et al.

Randomised controlled trials of macronutrient supplementation to promote better growth consistently show concurrent developmental benefits. Follow-up of a cluster randomised trial in Guatemala showed benefits to reading comprehension and reasoning at years in participants supplemented from birth to 24 months, but not those supplemented later Stein et al. While these findings point to the first 1, days as a critical window, later nutritional supplementation can also bring benefits Singh et al.

Providing nutrition information and support to parents is an important pathway to improved nutrition, and multiple benefits, as demonstrated in a randomised controlled trial with 2, women distributed across 24 other sites in Malawi. Interestingly, the greater awareness of the importance of nutrition appeared to have a systemic impact on household functioning, such that parent employment rates increased to help pay for improved food consumption Fitzsimons et al. This study demonstrates intervention efficacy of nutrition awareness and support for poor families, although parenting and home visiting interventions for mothers and babies are often integrated within a social protection programme see Sections 3.

Undernutrition has a pervasive impact on young children, undermining all aspects of their development, and leaving them more vulnerable to infectious diseases. Jones et al. Infectious disorders not only have an impact on child survival, but also on growth and development. In many regions, malaria is a continuing risk. Cerebral or severe malaria can have serious neurological sequelae, including seizures, and language and cognitive deficits.

In Uganda, cognitive training interventions improved the function of affected children Bangirana et al. A study of the use of highly active antiretroviral therapy in the Democratic Republic of Congo noted benefits to motor and cognitive development after one year, with greater benefits in younger children Van Rie et al. In South Africa, a randomised controlled trial of children with HIV aged less than 2 years and 6 months assessed the effectiveness of a home-based stimulation programme. The programmes were individualised and were structured around play and activities of daily living.

They included activities to promote motor, cognitive, and speech and language development. Outcomes were assessed at 6 months and 12 months. Children in the experimental group showed significantly greater improvement in cognitive and motor development over time than children in the comparison group Potterton et al. WASH interventions are elaborated in this section, but are a priority for all age phases in the Topic Guide. They play an important role in creating healthy and safe environments for parents and young children in their homes, neighbourhoods and in due course in play spaces, preschools etc.

The scale of the problem was highlighted by a study of child poverty in low- and middle-income countries Gordon et al. Most of these circumstances were related to their material conditions or their access to services. Half of the children in these countries were found to be seriously deprived on at least one count.

The impact of insanitary living conditions is illustrated by research into diarrhoea and other diseases. Studies in Brazil show associations between the number of diarrhoea episodes before age 2 years, late school entry and intellectual performance Lorntz et al. A multi-country study showed that each episode of diarrhoea in the first two years of life contributes to stunting, suggesting that associations between diarrhoea early in life and school age performance might be through the same processes that cause stunting Checkley et al.

During weaning, good hygiene could help to prevent diarrhoea. A recent intervention study found both high baseline faecal contamination of weaning foods and large reductions in contamination following a targeted hygiene intervention Cairncross et al. IMCI is an integrated approach to child health developed by the WHO that aims to reduce death, illness and disability, and to promote improved growth and development among children under 5 years of age.

In health facilities, IMCI promotes the accurate identification of childhood illnesses in outpatient settings, appropriate treatment, rapid referral and counselling of carers. In the home setting, it promotes improved nutrition and preventative care, and the correct implementation of prescribed care. It can be delivered as part of IMCI or other child health initiatives. A controlled trial of year olds who received the Care for Development intervention as part of IMCI in Turkey, found positive effects on the home environment, more home-made toys were observed A study of the use of Care for Development as part of IMCI for year olds in rural China, found that children in families who received Care for Development counselling had significantly higher development scores in cognitive, social, and linguistic domains, six months after the intervention Jin et al.

What is play-based learning?

Interventions to enhance mother-child interactions and increase developmental activities can build on those that begin during the perinatal period see Section 4. They can be distinct programmes or delivered as part of an integrated social protection scheme for the poorest households.

Parenting interventions are especially important to support care and development of infants with special needs or at risk in other respects. Young children naturally reach out for interaction through babbling, facial expressions, and gestures, and adults respond with the same kind of vocalising and gesturing back at them. Engle et al. The most effective interventions were those with systematic training methods for the workers, a structured and evidence-based curriculum, and opportunities for parental practice with children with feedback.

Rao et al. Most of these interventions were designed to promote sensitive and responsive caregiver-child interactions through psychosocial stimulation to improve cognitive and language abilities of infants and toddlers. Almost all of them focused on teaching parents to stimulate children through play, often utilising home-made toys or other readily available household items. Parent-focused interventions were often delivered through home visits, community groups, and a combination of home visits, group sessions, community activities, and primary health care and nutritional services. Interventions which involved guided interactions and practice involving both parent and child were more effective than parent-only or information-based interventions.

Those conducted at least partly in group settings had a slightly greater effect than home-based interventions alone. Interventions to support early interactions have been shown to have particular benefits for children with risk conditions such as severe malnutrition, low birthweight, iron-deficiency anaemia and HIV infection Walker et al. The evidence base for holistic interventions that integrate a nutrition programme with support for early interactions and learning during infancy is growing in number, quality and geographical contexts. Case Study 6 in Jamaica is one of the earliest reported inter-sectoral home-based interventions that is now yielding follow-up data over two decades, with impressive evidence of economic returns as well as child development outcomes.

The study reinforces the importance of looking beyond single sector approaches to early development. Nutrition is important, but nutrition plus early learning is a great deal better! Interventions combining play and learning with nutrition have now been replicated in several other countries. For example, randomised trials have already been conducted in Bangladesh with malnourished children Hamadani et al.

Whereas the Jamaica study involved health workers from local clinics making weekly home visits Powell et al. A large randomised trial in Bangladesh is working with the staff at local health clinics and asking two mothers and children at a time to visit the clinic for a joint play session every two weeks. This study run by Walker and colleagues is also exploring working with groups of mothers and children, as well as showing child development videos to mothers while they wait to see the nurse during clinic visits Grantham-McGregor, personal communication.

The sample of 1, children aged months was draw from 96 municipalities across Colombia. The initial results show benefits for cognition and language, but less clear evidence for the benefits of nutrition supplementation Attanasio et al. A randomised controlled trial carried out in Jamaica in measured the benefits of two years of psychosocial stimulation combined with nutrition supplementation. A total of stunted children aged months were assigned to one of four groups — control, supplementation, stimulation, or supplementation and stimulation. Supplementation comprised 1kg of milk-based formula per week.

Stimulation comprised weekly 1-hour home visits by community health workers, with the objective of improving mother-child interactions through play; mothers were encouraged to talk with their children, to label things and actions in the environment and to play educational games with their children. Low cost, often home-made toys and books were provided. Emphasis was put on cognitive and language development as well as improving the self-esteem of mother and child. Both interventions significantly benefited development. Most interestingly, the development of children who received both treatments caught up with that of a group of 32 matched non-stunted children Grantham-McGregor et al.

These children have now been followed up with, in order to track long-term outcomes. Small benefits from nutritional supplementation seen at 7 years were not detected at 11 years. When they were assessed aged years, those who had received the stimulation intervention had higher scores on a range of cognitive and educational tests Walker et al. Delivery of integrated programmes for mothers and babies is a rapidly growing field for well designed research, especially focusing on nutrition and psychosocial interventions Grantham-McGregor et al. Ball set out the following major prerequisites for "high-quality" provision: an appropriate early learning curriculum; the selection, training, and continuity of staff; high staff:children ratios; buildings and equipment designed for early learning; and a partnership role for parents.

Since the introduction of the Voucher scheme and Desirable Outcomes, early childhood education has become an issue on the national policy agenda, and there have been significant changes in the practices and politics of early childhood education.


  • Marilyn Fleer.
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  • How does it compare to direct instruction?.
  • The Early Years Curriculum: The UK Context and Beyond by Taylor & Francis Ltd (Paperback, 2013).
  • In order to register for the receipt of vouchers, preschool provisions had to show that they were moving children towards the Desirable Outcomes as defined by the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority SCAA, The Desirable Outcomes are "learning goals" that children should achieve before they enter compulsory education. They emphasize early literacy, numeracy, and the development of personal and social skills, and they contribute to children's knowledge, understanding, and skills in other areas.

    However, in , the incoming Labour Government abolished the voucher scheme and made its own plans for the development of early years services. The new government tried to raise standards and significantly increased public funding of early years education. The government provided direct funding to preschool institutions for part-time places for 4-year-old children and an increasing number of part-time places for 3-year-old children. However, the receipt of this funding for 3- and 4-year-old children is dependent on each preschool provision meeting government requirements for the regular inspection of preschool settings, in terms of the framework of Desirable Outcomes, now revised as Early Learning Goals QCA, The Philosophical Background of Childhood Education in England The main principles of traditional early childhood education in Britain are child centered, in contrast to the traditional subject-centered and teacher-directed approaches of secondary education Bruce, This section examines the key underlying principles of English traditional early childhood education: individualism, free play, developmentalism, and the child-centered perspective of the adult educator.

    Western child-centered education is based on individual children's needs and interests, and on educators' respect for the differences between individual children. Dewey emphasized individuality, with the curriculum chosen by the child rather than imposed by the teacher. Montessori had great respect for the child as an individual and for children's spontaneous and independent learning. She believed that the child possesses an intrinsic motivation toward the self-construction of learning. Supporting the view that children are innately curious and display exploratory behavior quite independent of adult intervention, the Plowden Report CACE, , p.

    As far as can be judged, this behaviour is autonomous since it occurs when there is no obvious motivation such as hunger. The intrinsic motivation theory of child-centered education relates to the learning by doing theory. In English preschool classrooms, learning by being active and interactive, by exploring the environment, has gained universal status Curtis, Dewey advocated that children learn best by exploring and manipulating their environment. Isaacs also emphasized the importance of learning by doing. She wrote that play is not the only means by which children come to discover the world; the whole of their spontaneous activity creates their psychic equilibrium in the early years.

    This learning by doing theory has been accepted implicitly by English preschool teachers, together with the need to provide a free and spontaneous environment and the rejection of formal instruction. The child-centered view of the child's intrinsic motivation for learning has been widely criticized. The child-centered view is that children are innately curious and keen to find things out, with a strong drive to explore the environment. This theory suggests that children learn more effectively if their activities are self-chosen and self-directed. However, many educators have warned of the dangers of an exclusive and unrealistic emphasis upon the child.

    Galton criticized child-centered theory as a "romantic" view of childhood requiring a curriculum totally dictated by the child's interests. Kogan questions whether children have a natural intellectual curiosity and whether they are really motivated to learn and are keen on discovery. He says that many children in the classroom do not display eagerness to learn and are not able to achieve enough by learning through discovery. Blenkin and Kelly also criticize learning by discovery, claiming that discovery is not possible unless one knows what one is discovering. They recommend that "the only sensible concept of learning by discovery is one which recognizes the essential contribution of the guidance that the teacher can and should provide" p.

    In the English preschool, play is an integral part of the curriculum, founded on the belief that children learn through self-initiated free play in an exploratory environment Hurst, ; Curtis, Free play is especially the norm in the traditional English nursery curriculum, following Rousseau, Froebel, Owen, McMillan, and Isaacs.

    According to Froebel, play is "the work of the child" and a part of "the educational process. Traditional English nurseries have worked with an integrated early childhood curriculum. The integrated curriculum is, as New , p. He argued that young children do not think in subjects and that their learning is holistic. According to the guidelines of the Early Years Curriculum Group , "Learning is holistic and for the young child; it is not compartmentalised under subject headings" p.

    In traditional English preschools, the rigid, subject-divided curriculum is rejected; instead, free play is regarded as the integrating mechanism that brings together everything learned Bruce, Although free play has many benefits and is a necessary part of preschool classrooms, the early years program that prioritizes free play has several crucial weaknesses. First, much research evidence shows that free play does not maximize cognitive development. Sylva, Roy, and McIntyre investigated the ways in which both children and adults spend their time during free play sessions in preschools.

    They found that there was a lack of challenging activity in children's free play, which tended to involve simple repetitive activities. Meadows and Cashdan also investigated children's behavior during free play sessions and reported that the nursery teachers in their study were busy and kind to the children but not very demanding. During free play, children did not persist at tasks, and the conversation between adult and child was very limited.

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    The Early Years Curriculum: The UK Context and Beyond by Taylor & Francis Ltd (Paperback, 2013)

    Meadow and Cashdan argued that supervised free play has limited benefits for children and that a high level of adult-child interaction during play is necessary to optimize children's learning. Sequential developmentalism is one of the most influential beliefs in English early years education. The term refers to the way in which the child passes through a naturally ordered sequence of development towards logical and formal thinking Curtis, Piaget's clinical and observational studies developed the idea of readiness and explored the process by which children advance through the sensorimotor stage years and preconceptual stages years in order to progress to logical and abstract thinking.

    According to this version of developmentalism, a child must be "ready" to move on to the next developmental stage and cannot be forced to move to a higher level of cognitive functioning. Although developmentalism and readiness are widely reported to be dominant in English early childhood education, several critiques have been articulated about the readiness concept in developmentalism.

    Primary Education () BA (Hons) with QTS (BA (Hons) 3 Year Route)

    For instance, Donaldson challenges Piaget's views of egocentric thinking through a number of fascinating and ingenious experiments and argues that the rational powers of young children have long been underestimated. The idea of "readiness" has often led to a lack of structure in the curriculum and to a lack of progression. In developmental theory, consideration of the nature of knowledge seems to be ignored. According to Bruner , knowledge of child development is necessary but is not sufficient, and early years practice also needs a firm and sufficient knowledge base.

    He argues that to avoid trivializing education, we need to integrate knowledge about teaching pedagogical knowledge with both knowledge about children's development and knowledge about knowledge itself. The traditional view of the English nursery teacher's role is that he or she is not an expert or authority, but an adviser and facilitator Curtis, ; Darling, The legacy of not intervening in the child's discovery that comes from Froebel, Montessori, and Dewey remains as a strong force within the ideologies of early childhood educators in England.

    Montessori argued that adults must foster children's inner drive, not impair it by imposing too many restrictions and obstacles in the child's environment. Similarly, Dewey believed that the teacher was not an instructor of passive learners nor a referee in a competition. The child-centered teacher is a guide and an arranger of the environment, rather than an instructor.

    Thus, teachers are supposed to select materials and activities that will interest children and enable them to find out about the surrounding world. Peters explains that "the image of the teacher" presented in the Plowden Report is of a "child-grower" who stands back so that children will proceed from discovery to discovery when they are "ready. Peters says that teaching can take the form of instruction and explanation, of asking leading questions, of demonstrating by example, and of correcting attempts at mastery.

    Moreover, there is an alternative view that adult support can improve children's concentration and attention span. For example, Vygotsky stresses the active role of the adult in maximizing children's intellectual development. He contends that children succeed in performing tasks and solving problems when helped by an adult. Bruner also believes that an adult presence increases the richness and length of play.

    Bruner describes the adult's role as "scaffolding" a child's learning, putting a scaffold around the child's learning to support the child until the child can operate independently at that level. The above discussion suggests that appropriate intervention and a structured approach to teaching are components of effective preschool practices. It presented a comprehensive restructuring of the educational system in England. The most important justifications for the National Curriculum are raising standards in schools and offering a broad and balanced curriculum Moon, Before the Education Reform Act, the education system was decentralized, with little government intervention in curriculum planning and implementation.

    However, since the introduction of the National Curriculum, government intervention has increased and teachers' autonomy has consequently decreased Cox, From its introduction, the subject-based approach of the National Curriculum has been seen as an attack on traditional child-centered preschool education.

    A further significant change in English early childhood education was the introduction of the framework for early years education represented by the Desirable Outcomes for Children's Learning SCAA, At that time, raising standards and improving quality in early childhood institutions were public priorities in policy making. The explicit expectation of this SCAA publication was that preschool education programs would enable children to reach the desirable outcomes by compulsory school age the term after the child's 4th birthday.

    The significant change, in terms of curriculum, is that the Early Learning Goals represent what most children are expected to achieve "by the end of the foundation stage from 3 to the end of the reception year " instead of "on reaching compulsory school age. The result is that the previous curriculum intended for 3- and 4-year-olds extends to include 5-year-olds.

    Personal and social development. Creative development 1. Personal, social, and emotional development. The curriculum guidance is intended "to help practitioners plan to meet the diverse needs of all children so that most will achieve and some, where appropriate, will go beyond the early learning goals by the end of the foundation stage" p. It is notable that although the curriculum guidance claims to describe integrated learning, it also emphasizes literacy and numeracy as distinct curriculum areas. The examples of "What Children Do" illustrate how children of different ages are progressing.

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